Chapter 17: Chasing The Tide
Moana had never felt so horrible in her life. Montuni was sunny, the sky a vibrant blue; not a single cloud broke its surface. In the distance, the ocean gently lapped at golden sands. Moana herself was sitting in the cliffs along the North Beach, staring longingly out at the horizon with sad, grief stricken eyes. It was the day Tui had hoped to see before he died, and the day Sina imagined for her little girl since she was born. For Moana, it was simply her wedding day. 'The weather mocks me,' the young chief thought bitterly, kicking her feet back and forth against the marble jetty's of stone where she sat, 'it should be raging out here'
But it wasn't. In fact, it was seemingly the perfect day for a wedding. It had only been a week since Moana returned, and Aisake didn't hesitate to ask for her hand the minute he was revived from the Star Fever. Moana, as she promised herself (with Ocean as her witness), said yes. And so it seemed the very island of Montuni was celebrating. The flowers were in bloom, sending wonderful scents into the air, and everything was lush and soft and bright. The sun wasn't too hot, and in the village, everyone was preparing for the ceremony at the community fale. Moana was sure to keep Hei-Hei away from the cooks hut, as delectable food smells wafted past her nose and the sound of yelling men reached her ears. Meanwhile, women and children decorated the village in flowers and vines, all singing happily. Everyone seemed merry, except of course, for the bride. As it was the Mother of the brides job to deck out her daughter, Moana was ready for the ceremony thanks to Sina. Her lavalava was blue and looked like the ocean, and lines of seashells were slung over her neck and woven into her clothing. On her head was her tribal headdress, sprouting the dark feathers of the island wild quail birds, and sparkling opalescence gems from the tide pools towards the south. But no amount of color or jewelry could hide Moana's deep sorrow.
One week had passed, and Maui, Demigod of the Wind and Sea had yet to make an appearance. It was a low blow, really. Moana half wondered if Maui would come chasing after her, asking why she left without telling him, or simply dropping down onto his knees and pleading for her to return. But there was none of that. It had been one week, and Montuni had been peaceful. Moana felt her heart twist painfully at this thought, 'maybe I was wrong to put my faith in someone like Maui,' Moana questioned herself, over and over again, 'maybe I truly did mean nothing to him,'
Moana debated the first few days of being home whether or not her feelings for Maui were true. And though she felt strong kinship towards her future husband, as well as massive amounts of respect...he wasn't Maui. Moana groaned and dragged a tired hand down her face, looking back at her island where the evening fires were already smoking, 'they are counting on me as chief now,' Moana thought, turning back to where the ocean crashed against the cliffs below her feet, 'I've been gone too long,'
But Moana couldn't move from her spot. She was anchored there, stuck (just like before) in a place between her village and the sea. But what was the point of living an immortal life, when your immortal guardian didn't even feel for you. At least, as a mortal, Moana would grow old with her people, and then, die with her people. She wouldn't have to wait and watch all her love ones die around her, while she remained the same. Moana didn't want to live the horrors of watching generations upon generations of Montuni bloom and wither like the summer flowers. It was just too hard, 'a lot of stuff seems too hard these days.' Moana dryly chuckled at the thought, looking out at the horizon again. She saw nothing but the glittering diamonds of appearing stars there, the stars which Rehua had diligently replaced (as he had promised). Sighing heavily once more, Moana stood on the stones. Closing her eyes, she let the salty breeze toss loose pieces of her hair about her ears, and softly sweep against her skin. This would be her last night alone; just her and the ocean. Because once sun set, she would be married to Aisake. He was a diligent worker and would no doubt make a good husband. He would be loyal, and would never leave her...not like Maui. Moana's heart clenched again. 'Why do my thoughts always drift back to him? He's not coming back. At least...he's not coming back because he loves me,' Turning her back to the ocean and looking upon Montuni, Moana began to step off the cliffs. Reaching the dirt path leading back to the village though, the young wayfinder couldn't help but look over her shoulder. She expected to see a giant hawk on the horizon, flying towards her with love in his great eyes. But there was nothing. Only the place where the sky met the sea, and the twinkling of dim starlight. Biting her lip to keep back the tears, Moana inhaled shakily and turned fully. She couldn't be sad tonight. After all, she was getting married.
(10 years later)
Moana's fale was peaceful that afternoon. It had been blazing hot for most of the day, practically cooking the inhabitants of Montuni like cabbages. But the sun soon began to set, and a cool ocean breeze took away the muggy heat, leaving behind a more comfortable climate. Moana worked the strands of her daughters long, dark curls with expert fingers, being sure to tickle the little girl's neck with a finger every few seconds,
"Mama, stop that,"
"You brood too much," the wayfinder defended herself, tickling the girls ear again and forcing the bright, happy smile back onto her face, "you need to smile more, Kailani,"
"How can I when Papa is working late in the coconut groves?"
"Maybe he'll bring you back another stone?" Moana questioned, pulling Kailani's plait tighter as she wove flowers into it mindlessly, "you've already got such a big collection,"
"Think he will?"
"Hmm maybe. And if he doesn't, you'll just have to go out and hunt for one,"
Kailani giggled at that and beamed at herself in the mirror. She had many of Moana's features, with dark almond skin and long, dark curls of hair. But her eyes gleamed like emeralds (Aisake's eyes), and her smile was impish and troublesome. Moana smiled and joined her daughter's face in the mirror, leaning on her shoulder, "there, you look beautiful,"
"It's the same braid you do every night, mama?" Kailani stated, screwing up her face slightly in the mirror. Laughing lightly at that, Moana sat back as the curtain to their fale opened, and Aisake stepped into the firelight. Immediately, Kailani found his arms, and he hauled her up into the air with a heavy sigh,
"Hey there, Coconut. You look pretty tonight,"
"And you're sweaty,"
"Well thanks for that," Aisake pinched one of his daughters bare feet as she howled with laughter. Rolling her eyes, Moana stood and smoothed out her lavalava,
"It's about time you got here. Lani has been waiting for you to get home all afternoon,"
"I'm sorry, Moana. But..." Aisake's eyes darkened slightly as he motioned outside with his head, "there's someone here to see you. He's waiting on the beach,"
Moana stiffened slightly as she tucked some loose hair behind her ear and rolled her lip slightly, "he seemed intent on seeing you immediately. I told him to wait till sunset," Aisake said, "I'll get our little trouble maker here into bed,"
"Alright, thank you," Moana shook herself and found her daughter's nose with her lips, "Good night, my little Coconut. I'll come in to tuck you in later,"
Kissing her daughter's face once more as she hung upside down from her father's shoulders, Moana left the fale and followed a well worn path down towards the beach. Her hands became clammy as she walked, and her heart was thudding her chest like drums. It had been so long since she had seen Maui. Stopping at the edge of the treeline, Moana looked out towards the shore with a shaky exhale. There in the moonlight stood a tall, broad figure with a fishhook slung over one shoulder. His back was turned, and he was looking out on the horizon, seemingly in deep thought. Even from a distance, Moana could see he had more tattoos on his back then before. And to he surprise, his hair was significantly shorter, and pulled up into his causal bun. Sighing again and frowning, Moana stepped out onto the sand. Maui didn't even turn around as Moana walked to stand beside him, allowing the ocean to surge up towards her ankles,
"Hey," the young chief's voice sounded more confidant then she actually felt as her eyes scanned the gleaming line of moonlight in the distance, "it's...it's been a long time."
"Yeah," Maui's voice was soft, almost hurt as the breeze ruffled between them, "you're older?"
Moana nodded her head,
"Yeah. I...I didn't think being an immortal was for me. What about you? Have any new adventures?"
"Yeah," Maui mumbled, reflecting Moana's own briskness as the ocean gurgled at the shore, "this is probably the scariest one yet,"
"Aisake said you wanted to see me right away," Moana looked down and shifted some sand with her foot, "what do you want?"
For the first time in the conversation, Maui turned to face Moana. There was nothing but hurt across his features, his prominent brow casting deep shadows across his eyes,
"Why did you do it?" He asked, "why did you leave?"
She had imagined this same moment over and over again before her wedding. The ocean, the moonlight...Maui, asking her why she left. But now, 10 years later with a loyal husband, an island and a daughter to care for, the idea left a sour taste in her mouth. Chuckling slightly at the irony, Moana sighed,
"Because I was silly enough to think you'd chase after me, Maui,"
Moana swallowed the thick lump in her throat as she shook her head and pushed some hair behind her ear, "I loved you more then anything. I waited so long for you to come across the horizon and sweep me up for another grand adventure. But you never did."
Maui said nothing, looking at his hands as Moana blinked away the tears welling up in her eyes, "I still dream about you sometimes, Maui. All the times we could of had together,"
"We can still do that," Maui insisted quietly, "you and me, we'll take a trip. Anywhere. I-I was too scared to say I...I love you, back then Moana. But I'm ready now," Maui's face brightened with excitement, "I promise,"
"Maui," Moana sighed heavily and kicked a stone into the water with a foot, "I still love you, and I always will love you. But...it's too late for that," Moana reached up to hold Maui's cheek in her hand, "I have my own life now. A husband and a daughter. I could never leave them, not now. And chasing you...well, it's a bit like chasing the tide," Moana motioned to the water as the waves gently surged up and down the shore, "it's impossible,"
Maui deflated slightly as his face sunk into sorrow, "Maui, I remember every moment we had together, and I'll always cherish them. But...we only have a lifetime, and its just not enough. I want you to go and change the world, Maui. And...and you'll remember me, just like I do, you,"
Moana smiled weakly as Maui's eyes darkened again, and his fists clenched, "I love you, Maui,"
Standing on her tip-toes, Moana pecked the lips she dreamed of kissing for so long before pulling back in less then a second, "but I'm afraid this is goodbye,"
Maui said nothing, merely looking at the sand as he reached out slowly and took Moana's hand in his. Then, as quickly as it happened, Maui was flying away, a single hawk call lingering in the air as he vanished into the night sky. Standing alone on the beach, Moana felt the tears slipping down her face as she clutched the fist Maui had held, only to blink and open her fingers in confusion. Sitting in her palm was a blue gem, pulsing with the Oceans power as Moana felt a warmth fill her heart and, for the first time in 10 years, she let a true smile slip onto her face,
Moana turned slightly as Kailani appeared, barreling through the underbrush with the brightest of eyes. Glancing at Aisake in panic, the man only shrugged (his I-Cant-Get-Her-To-Sleep shrug) as Moana hoisted her little girl into her arms. Nuzzling the child sweetly, Moana opened her palm to reveal the heart of Tangaroa,
"I found the perfect stone for your collection, my little Coconut,"
"It's so pretty," Kailani breathed, taking the rock in her own hands as Moana felt Aisake wrap an arm around her waist, "what's the story behind this one?"
"Well, I think it's actually the lost heart of a great sea god named Tangaroa-"
Telling the story from memory as Moana hauled Kailani back towards the village for some sleep, the wayfinder glanced over her shoulder on a whim. This time, a lone figure was standing on the beach, hook slung over one shoulder. Though his dark eyes were sad, a small smile had slipped onto his lips. And like a ghost, he was gone, and Moana knew that everything would be ok. But one question remained in her mind as she tucked her little girl into bed and kissed her husband goodnight. Why did Maui have the Heart of Tangaroa, anyway?
A/N: That's it! Our story is finished! To all of you who reviewed and liked and followed this, I clap for you guys. It's been a crazy journey, and I was definitely going for the feels in this chapter. I know some of you may have been expecting some grand ending with an immortal Moana and Maui skipping off into the sunset, but, I preferred this ending a bit more! Anyway, this may or may not have a sequel? Tell me what ya'll think in the comments and I love you all! Happy Trails!